“Play the Schedule” Policy

Guidance for ASC teams competing in BAYS leagues

Arlington Soccer Club (ASC) teams competing in BAYS leagues have reported an increasing number of inappropriate game rescheduling requests in recent years. Most often, these requests stem from one team having an insufficient number of players due to competing Saturday commitments. These requests lead to increased work, uncertainty, and, in some cases, conflict. In response, ASC has developed the following guidance to help promote 360-degree compliance with the BAYS “Play the Schedule” policy.

1. Play the Schedule

BAYS Match Rule 8 outlines the league’s “Play the Schedule” policy and its guidelines for properly rescheduling games: https://bays.org/book/bays-match-rule-8-%E2%80%93-reschedule-gamesplaying-schedule

ASC endorses Match Rule 8. We wish to highlight some key elements of this rule:

  • There are only 4 situations in which a game may be unilaterally rescheduled by one team:
    1) religious holidays
    2) three-day holiday weekends (e.g. Indigenous People’s Day or Memorial Day weekend), provided sufficient notice is given
    3) field scheduling conflict
    4) scheduled school.
  • Rescheduling a game for any other reason requires bilateral agreement by both coaches and is generally discouraged. Of note, according to the BAYS policy, “Missing some players is not a reason to cancel. If enough players remain to field a team, play the game as scheduled.

ASC advises the following steps when a unilateral game rescheduling request is made by another team when your team is prepared to play the game as scheduled:

  • If the request is made less than 7 days before the schedule game, then decline to reschedule. Rescheduling a game less than one week in advance causes substantial disruption and work for field and referee assignors, coaches, and club officials. Ask the opponent to either play the game or accept a unilateral forfeit and cc the BAYS Division Director and ASC BAYS Directors in your reply.
  • If the request is made at least 7 days before the scheduled game, then ask how many players the opponent will have for the game.
    • If it is greater than or equal to the minimum number outlined above, then we advise NOT rescheduling the game. In your reply to this request, state that your team is “ready to play the game as scheduled,” cite BAYS Match Rule 8 and Law 3 for playing the game as scheduled, and cc the BAYS Division Director and ASC BAYS Directors.
    • If it is less than the minimum number outlined above, you are under no obligation to reschedule the game if your team is ready to play the original game as scheduled. However, if you wish to explore the possibility of rescheduling, then ask the opponent to accept a unilateral forfeit while working to determine if your team can plan the game at another acceptable date/time. State that you will reschedule the game only if all or most of your players who were available for the original scheduled date are available for a rescheduled game. If so, then proceed with rescheduling. If not, then decline to reschedule.

ASC recognizes that there may be instances where rescheduling a game is mutually beneficial to both teams. In these cases, we recommend the following steps:

  • Bilateral agreement should be clearly documented, and requests should never involve pressure from either party.
  • When possible, pre-playing the game ahead of the original date is always preferred.
  • If pre-playing the game is not possible, postponed games should occur within the allowable timeframe, which is generally 3 weeks after the original date, except toward the end of the season: https://bays.org/book/bays-match-rule-8-%E2%80%93-reschedule-gamesplaying-schedule
    • Please note that if a rescheduled game is not played within the allowable timeframe, both teams are at risk of a double forfeit.

2. Requests to “match numbers”

Following from Match Rule 8 and Law 3, there may be instances where an opponent fields a team with reduced numbers, e.g. 9 players for an 11v11 game. ASC teams have reported an increasing number of requests by opponents to “match numbers” in these scenarios. This request is sometimes made in the name of “fairness” or “sportsmanship.” However, ASC does NOT endorse this practice.

Why? It is unfair to the team that is fully present and ready to play. In the vast majority of cases, requests to “match numbers” are made by teams with a large number of players who have chosen other commitments. If your team has a full squad and is ready to play, asking your players to play less because the other team cannot field a full squad is unfair to the players who have made the commitment to show up and play the game as scheduled. Playing everyone you have available on that day honors the commitment of these players to the game and to the BAYS policy of “playing the schedule.”

ASC recognizes that there may be selected instances in which “matching numbers” is deemed appropriate, such as avoiding a lopsided score or a severe competitive imbalance. However, “matching numbers” is not a BAYS policy and is never obligatory, as long as the lopsided score policy is observed: https://bays.org/content/lopsided-game-management

3. Reciprocal compliance

This guidance is designed to support ASC coaches when navigating BAYS game requests from other clubs/teams/coaches. However, it is important that ASC coaches also observe these policies with respect to their own teams. That is, ASC coaches should adhere to the BAYS “Play the Schedule” policy, follow the rescheduling guidance set out above, and avoid asking or pressuring opponents to “match numbers” when unable to field a full squad.